Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Zen in My New 2010 Clutter-free Home Office

I'm a productivity geek and I love tweaking my home office space. In the past three years I've moved three times and each time I had to build my home office from scratch and each time I learned something new. 

I started with a small office space powered by Ikea cabinet in the corner of our living room in our small condo in Warsaw. When we moved to a new apartment I finally had an entire room dedicated to my home office so I built a really nice one with a big long Apple-store-kinda desk and I loved it.

Now we moved again. Different house, city and country. So I had to build it from scratch. Luckily there was an Ikea nearby so I came up with something like this:
There it is - my new home office built entirely out of Ikea furniture (ok, the chair does not come from Ikea) and it's clean, bright and white... and I love getting stuff done here.

It's all about what you see... and what you don't see.

If you take a closer look, you'll see that I have quite a few computers on my desk... but still I have lots of free space and everything is quite clutter-free. It took a significant while to build it all that way, but if you have a few minutes, let me show you the entire process with all the spicy details. Here we go:

Step 1 - Start with a clean slate

The first thing I did was to plan how the desks will look like. Bought two pieces of wood-like desks from Ikea with legs and attached all together to form an "L" letter and there was my desk. Now, before I started to put cables and all these small things, I started with this question:

"How I want my office to look like when I'm done?"... and I put a sculpture from my friend Miguel Guia, my Macbook Air and my external monitor in portrait mode .... and an Ikea lamp behind the monitor. And it started to look really "clean" and nice:

Step 2 - Figure out Power Management

This is a tough and lengthy step. I needed to figure out what I'm going to use around my computer gear and how I'm going to put it all together.

I started with putting the gear on the table and attaching cables to it:

I knew I didn't want to see any of my cables (no distractions, please!) so I figured out I should mount the cables and stuff right below the desk. I decided to use a thin board with small holes to serve as my cable management hub:
As always - when I started counting I realized I'm going to need close to 20 power sockets so I had them prepared before the board arrived.

This kind of board is very flexible and you can easily mount stuff to it with plastic "belts" and then you can mount the board to the desk with simple hooks. Here are some details:

I liked this "cable management" concept and kept on adding stuff to the board. I started with power sockets and later went on with LAN router, VoIP box, laptop chargers, USB hard drives, etc. Here's the process along the way:

As mentioned earlier, I had to prepare special hooks and install them below the desk. It was fairly easy - 5 hooks should be all I need to keep the board with my entire gear in place:

Once I've added everything and mounted the board, it all looked really promising. I've got all my sockets in one place and all my chargers and most of my gear "out-of-sight" right below my desk:

Step 3 - What you see (and don't see) is what you get

Now, as you can see, although I've got plenty of gear mounted to my desk, I hardly see any of it. This helps me focus and get stuff done and I'm never worried about my cables.

Closer look at my office

Here's what I see when I just work - on the right side I have my external monitor in portrait mode for web browsing, writing and coding. The display is attached to my Macbook Air and on the left hand side I have my trusted iPad which I use for video-watching and news-reading. Right next to my Air there is my Magic mouse, iPhone dock and Pomodoro :-)

To make sure I don't look at my other laptop (IBM Thinkpad X60T) - which serves as my home-server and all the documents and inboxes, I've moved them to the side. When I need them, they are there, but they remain out-of-sight.

All my phones and chargers are here, my USB hub, Inbox, document shredder and folders are on the side - I like it that way - don't have to look at all this when I don't need to:

To make sure I have as few objects to look at as possible, I've moved my document cabinet (Ikea made as well) and my laser printer-copier-scan machine to my "back". This is my "back office" and since the multi-fuctional device is connected to my router and then to my wireless router, I can print and scan from any place in my home:

I love my new home office - here it is in a nutshell

I've learned a lot building this new home office and I'm happy it's exactly how I want it to be. I'll probably record a Productive! Show episode about it to explain more about why I built the office the way I did. Hope you like it, too, and hopefully I inspired you to make your home office also a great place to work. Here it is, once again, with more details explained:

Do you also work from home? How does your office look like?
--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Cleaning: Clutter-free Productive Home Office

Update (30 Nov 2010): I've moved again and I have a new home office now. Make sure to check it out.

OK, so after we've moved to our new apartment I got my very own room to set up my very own home office where I'd be productive when at home... and I wanted a true clutter-free experience. As you know, in the past I managed to pack all of my office-related stuff into an Ikea cabinet but this time around I was aiming at an Apple-style-designed big, clean, lean and clutter-free desk. This is the outcome:



There you go, from the left there is my Canon MP110 Printer and scanner (it's so far on the left that you can't see it, but you'll see it on the other photos), a 21-inch Gateway external monitor (aligned vertically - I prefer it that way), my Macbook Air, GTD-style folders and iPhone dock, my previous main machine: X60 Thinkpad TabletPC (docked) which my wife is currently using, my Toshiba M200 TabletPC (acting as my home server) docked and accessible only with Wacom active digitizer pen, GTD-inboxes and a document shredder.

Interested? I've got more pictures for you and the setup photos below.

Step 1 - big desk with lots of free space

I started out with a big desk Apple-style without anything on it or attached to it. It even doesn't have any legs, sweet pure and beautiful place to work. So I started digging around it, making holes and putting first wires:



Step 2 - preparing "cage" to attach to the bottom of the desk with chargers inside

I bought a clothing drawer in a local superstore and cut it to fit my space below my desk:



Step 3 - prepare the wires and chargers

There are lots of chargers and wires we need to prepare to put "below" our desk:



Step 4 - make sure you have enough "juice"

I need lots of "power sources" to power all these little tiny devices and all my computers, so here goes - two (eventually I ended up with 4 when I realized how many power outlets I really needed) power lines:



And additional "chimney" for ad-hoc power on the desk (clutter-free power):



Step 5 - put the cables and stuff into the "cage" and attach them with plastic straps



Step 6 - install power juice and make sure all the cables are in place



Step 7 - realize you have to few power outlets and install more, install cage



Some design details - how I attached the "cage" with all of my stuff:



It's nice to use a plastic pipe to make sure the details look really nice:



Step 8 - install a "charger basket"

I got this idea from unclutterer and I liked it a lot, here's my basket with all the outlets for mobile phones, camera and digicam in one place:



Step 9 - move everything around and attach your last cables

After I've done my initial version I had to do it all over again to make sure everything is in the right place:



Step 10 - enjoy your new clutter-free and beautiful office space

Here's my left side of desk:



And here's my right side:



Here's what's in front of my eyes when working:



Hope you liked my very lengthy blog post and you got inspired to get a clutter-free place to work.

And there is one more thing....

Don't try to pull it off on your own! Always get help from someone qualified to help you with this kind of setup, luckily my daughter (11 months young) gladly helped:



How is your home-office? Do you work from home? How is your real office? Enough room to be creative?

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.